Soon after we were seated outside at Parc Bistro-Brasserie in San Diego’s Hillside neighborhood, I said to my dining companion I felt as if I were at a sidewalk bistro in Paris. Owner Garo Minassian told me that was exactly what he was striving for. San Diego Restaurant Week begins this Sunday the 23rd, and we went to the bistro for a preview meal.
As French accordion music drifted over us, our server Julian greeted us. A Parisian, Julian is passionate about the menu and didn’t hesitate when I was trying to select a starter. I had been dreaming about escargot, one of the five starter choices available, but he insisted I try the charred octopus with a chili garlic emulsion and avocado mousse. It was a very good call. While Kat savored her kale salad with crispy quinoa, smoked feta and roasted tomato, I was delighted with the octopus. Not only was the presentation stunning, every bite was delicious.
We had a chance to chat with Garo, who landed in San Diego in 1983 and opened Scalini’s Italian Restaurant which he owned for 25 years along with five other restaurants. He bought Parc Bistro-Brasserie in 2016 and remodeled and reopened it as a French Bistro with an Italian twist. His love of wine is obvious from a glance at the thoughtfully selected wine list. He holds a wine dinner every month except for August and December with the next one scheduled for October 10. His aim with Parc was to create a neighborhood restaurant geared towards locals. He has clearly succeeded.
For my entrée I selected a classic French dish, Coq Au Vin. Served with fresh mushrooms, carrots, lardons and mashed potatoes, it was a deep dark red and paired beautifully with the Laird Pinot Noir I was enjoying. Kat ordered the petite filet mignon medallions with sautéed vegetables and a shallot demi-glace. There was no need to wash her plate. She ate every morsel.
We finished our meal with an apple tarte tatin for me while Kat opted for the chocolate caramel mousse. On a flaky crust with vanilla bean gelato, the tarte tatin was sublime. The mousse was also delightful, served with fresh strawberries and a praline crunch. It was a delightful evening. Julian was attentive and clearly knew Chef Benjamin Navarro’s menu. I enjoyed watching Garo go from table to table, making certain each guest was happy with their experience.
The restaurant week menu offers a starter, entrée and dessert for $40. Half a dozen oysters are available as an optional starter for $6, and you can add jumbo prawns to the filet for $9. San Diego Restaurant Week runs September 23 – 30. Parc Bistro-Brasserie is at 2760 Fifth Avenue in San Diego.
Tom Plant launched WINEormous in 2009 and is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. Tour details and pricing are available at www.temecula-tours.com. WINEormous is the recipient of the Luxury Travel Guide’s Wine Tour Operator of the Year award for Temecula 2017. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701. Ask about special discounts.